London Youth Games Inside Story

12794733_10153918253741382_2218269307417253708_oU13 manager Mark Avery shares his Bushy Park Girls experiences in the BPG Inside Story…..

A cold sunny day greeted the 5 girls who gathered at Teddington station early on Sunday morning (Phoebe and Ella decided the warmth and comfort of the car was a better option!). It was the day of the London Youth Games cricket finals and the girls were eager with anticipation for the day ahead. Sadly they had to leave behind their 8th team member Amelie who had been cruelly crocked playing hockey during the week. The remaining 7 promised to do their best to bring her back a medal.

10683616_10153917587861382_6605551775673662662_oThe train journey flew past with no incident apart from Imi realising at Waterloo that she had left her cricket bat on Hampton Wick Station (fortunately recovered by dragging Dad out of bed!). We arrived in plenty of time at the home of cricket, Lords Cricket ground in St Johns Wood, to watch our potential semi-final opponents, Bexley, easily win in their quarter final.

Very quickly the start time for our quarter final against Harrow, containing the much talked about Sonali, arrived. Would she smash us everywhere and then bowl us all out as some feared?

Harrow got off to a good start but the girls pulled it back bowling tightly in the middle overs. The revered Sonali took to the crease quite late and batting well soon reached 20 but then had to retire. BPG kept the pressure on as wickets fell. The last over arrived but Harrow could only manage 3 runs as they lost 3 wickets including the returning Sonali.

12496369_10153918251866382_2158427396662880067_o102 to win and some of the girls looked worried but they were reminded of how they had chased down a similar total against Hillingdon in the qualifiers. Abi and Ella opened the innings facing the fast paced Sonali. They stood firm taking her for 17 off the first over and continued to batter the bowlers and steal many runs they shouldn’t. They quickly passed 50. Abi retired and then Ella. Jess hit a couple of lusty blows, Phoebe was cruelly run out. But we were always ahead of the rate and Sadie and Imogen saw us home with 2.5 overs still to bowl. A comprehensive victory and at this point Richmond girls’ cricket team had progressed further than ever before in the London Youth Games. Now guaranteed joint 3rd place!

It was a long wait to our semi-final against the fancied Bexley side. Food was eaten, Cricket watched. Practice outside alongside the famous Nursery ground. All of a sudden we were on. Ella tossed up and for the first time in the tournament we were batting first. We started badly as Abi fended off a high full toss first ball and was caught. Ella stood firm in the face of good Bexley bowling as wickets fell around her but it seemed our innings was over all too quickly. We had scored fast as we reached 58 in just 4.5 overs. Would that be enough? The girls looked despondent. They were going to have to produce a miracle to turn this one round.

12779250_10153918255286382_4415743737882492753_oParents, coaches, Councillors, the Mayor of Richmond and Dan our fantastic Sports Development Manager from Richmond Council watched on. I think I probably only need to copy his quote. “The bowling and fielding in the semi-final against Bexley in particular, was up there with one of the best sporting performances I’ve ever seen, at professional level as well!” He is not wrong. The girls were fantastic. They were sharp and threatening in the field. Emma stopping boundaries in the deep. A catch from Phoebe that can only be described as a worldly. How did that stick? Bowling so tight as Ella, Jess and Abi turned the screw and the pressure took its toll. In no time Bexley were staggering at 26-5. Only 1 wicket to take and she was a good bat. Phoebe bowled a tight over and then our youngest player, Imogen, came onto bowl. Dot, dot, dot and then the Bexley bat tries to play a shot. The ball lobs up. Imogen is under it. Disaster the ball goes down. Would that be our chance blown? Would little Imi be able to cope with missing such a crucial catch? Of course she would. How could I doubt her? Next ball was straight and true. A swing and a miss and the stumps went down. Incredibly the mighty BPG had taken Richmond to the final.

12795174_10153917588376382_797110085868961262_oIt was another long wait to the final. A chance to check out our finalists. Pictures in front of the famous ground and with the Mayor.  Our opponents were known. It was going to be Hammersmith and Fulham some of whom we knew. We needed 6 girls for the final out of 7, all of whom had played so well in the first two games. Who would want to be a manager to leave one out

A good start as we win the toss and put them in. Early bowling from Ella, Jess and Phoebe kept it very tight. H & F were under pressure. Abi then strikes with 2 wickets in an over. Then Imogen and Jess and another for Abi helped by more terrific fielding and 2 fantastic catches by Ella behind the wicket. 73 all out. Surely a gettable target. Preparation for batting was suddenly thrown though. All the bats had disappeared out the bag. One was found and some were loaned from our ever growing band of supporters which included current Middlesex 1st XI players.

12764412_10153918255586382_1622507212654461859_oElla and Abi finally made it to the middle and got us off to a good start. Over 20 were on the board in just the 2nd over before enthusiasm for stealing runs went a little far and Abi was run out. Next ball Ella smashed the ball into the ground and it cannoned off the floor into the hands of the H&F fielder. Hope and luck was all H&F could have and they got it in plenty as they claimed the catch and the umpire concurred. 2 wickets in two balls and suddenly it was a different game. Jess and Phoebe added a few until nerves got to the girls and another suicide run out. Phoebe was gone. No need to panic. We were still well head of the run rate required. Jess batted patiently until the ball lobbed off her foot into the hands of their wicket keeper. A half-hearted appeal for a catch. The same umpire. The same result. Maybe it was time to offer him my spare glasses from my bag. However as someone once said “The eyes are useless when the mind is blind” so not sure it would have helped

Imogen and Sadie eked out some runs but H&F seemed to have 7 players and finally they claimed the wickets and Richmond were beaten. A few tears were shed but the girls can only be proud of what was a magnificent performance and far exceeded all expectations. The fielding and bowling in particular was fantastic and was demonstrated by the fact that they bowled every side out in the competition. I can only say I was immensely proud of them. Spirits picked up as we wound our way home. Amelie got her promised medal, we have tea with the Mayor to look forward to and we can plan to go one better next year. A big well done to Ella, Emma, Phoebe, Sadie, Jess, Abi, Imogen and of course Amelie. And special thanks to Dave and Hannah, Natalie for scoring, all our supporters and Dan from Richmond Sports Development.


Lords’ final awaits for Richmond London Youth Games cricket team

LYG_qualifiers_2016U13 manager Mark Avery shares his Bushy Park Girls experiences in the BPG Inside Story…..

Would it prove to be an ill wind or a fair wind for the Richmond-upon-Thames Borough girls cricket team as they gathered under grey scudding clouds at Teddington Station station yesterday (06/02/2016). The Bushy Park Girls were in fine spirits (if not fine voices!) as the volume was cranked up during their minibus journey to Harrow Leisure Centre for the London Youth games cricket qualifiers.

In our group for the qualifiers were the much fancied Hillingdon, as well as Barnet and Hounslow boroughs. We started though with a warm up match against Kingston as their match had been cancelled. Kingston batted first including our very own Molly Bartlett. The girls got in some useful batting and bowling practise, getting our day off to a good start with a win. We were now ready for our first match against Hounslow.

After Richmond Borough captain Ella Waldren lost the toss and Hounslow chose to bat our coach Hannah Munday gave them a quick team talk whilst I hurried up to get to my scoring position. It was lucky I was quick as Phoebe Head opened the bowling and quickly took 2 wickets to reduce them to 0 – 2. Jess Low bowled tightly conceding no runs and panicking the batters into running resulting in two run outs. 4 wickets down quickly became 5 as Sadie Day bowled the next batter and in the 4th over Abi Avery finished the innings off. Hounslow were bowled out for 11 in 3.3 overs!

Bushy Park Girls Amelie Munday and Ella Waldron strolled out to open the batting for Richmond Borough. With such a low total Hounslow needed a good start. Amelie steely eyed smashed the first ball for 4 and then followed up with two more 4s and a single. BPG had won in 4 balls! Apparently a LYG record.

Fuelled with drinks and sarnies the girls next took to the pitch for the eagerly awaited match against Hillingdon. This was likely to be an epic. Forget the Ashes. This was a cauldron of hot glowing embers of competitiveness. Phoebe Head got us off to another great start taking 2 early wickets but Hillingdon hit back scoring runs more freely. However we pinned them back as tight bowling by Jess, again, and the other girls meant we regained our composure and good fielding got us 2 run outs. This meant a return to the crease of their opener, and a Middlesex player, who had earlier had to retire on reaching 20. She led a late assault to take them past 100 and finish their innings on 101. A very competitive total.

Abi and Ella opened the batting intent on negotiating the opening overs of Hillingdon’s Middlesex pair. A steady first over to start but in the second Abi smashed a 4 and 6 to relieve the pressure and the runs started to flow. Abi quickly reached 20 and retired and Ella was joined by Phoebe. Ella took up the mantle and smashed a huge 6 and before long she was also retired but by now Phoebe had her eye in and was scoring runs at will. Jess joined Phoebe in the fun and by the time Phoebe was retired the Hillingdon bowlers were rattled. We lost our first actual wicket when we had reached 96 and lost a second quickly but Abi returned to the crease and along with Amelie took us over the line with 1.3 overs to spare. A fine victory in the end and it was a brilliantly paced innings by the girls.

With barely time to celebrate our next game against Barnet was straight up. Barnet chose to bat and were quickly in need of some syrup as two wickets crashed in the first over again. Emma Bridge bowled the 2nd over and took a wicket with her 1st ball. A tight over resulted in another run out and then Imogen Higgins came onto bowl and finished the innings off with tight bowling and fielding forcing them into 2 further run outs. Barnet all out for 11! Déjà vu? It certainly was.

Imogen and Emma opened the batting and it took them just 1 over to score the 12 runs required! Bushy Park Girls had taken Richmond through to the finals at Lords for the second year running. Despite the rain on our return to Teddington nothing could dampen our spirits and the same brisk wind we left earlier could never compete with the whirlwind that is Bushy Park Girls. Well done everyone. You were a fantastic team with a great spirit and loads of talent.

I am very proud to have been there with you all. Many thanks also to Dan Hughes (Sports Development Officer at London Borough of Richmond upon Thames) for organising everything, Hannah Munday for coaching them whilst I tried to score between my coughing fits, our mini bus driver for putting up with us all and lending lots of support on the day and lastly to Dave Waldren who although he wasn’t there coached all the girls at our February Tuesday evening sessions.

Roll on the Lords’ finals on 28th February.

Middlesex U13 Indoor Champions 2016

bushy_park_girls_U13_indoor_championsBushy Park Girls Cricket Club retained their Under 13 title by winning the MCA Indoor tournament at PLAY ON in Whitechapel yesterday. Four teams from Middlesex competed for the first silverware of the season including Stoke Newington CC, Primrose Hill CC and North Middlesex CC in this traditional curtain raiser.

It seemed an impossible task for Under 13 Bushy Park Girl’s manager, Mark Avery, to bring this team together after they lost their first match heavily to North Middlesex by 38 runs (BPG 21 – 59 NM). With two new players entering the fray for the first time, Ruby Wilkinson and Iris Saunders (from Teddington Town CC) here was a chance to rebuild the eight girl team.

Bushy Park Girls calmed their nerves with a 21 run win over a sporting Primrose Hill side (BPG 37 – 18 PH) but again tasted the bitter pill of defeat with a 20 run defeat against a strong and well drilled Stoke Newington team (BPG 17 – 37 SN). Not all was lost! Despite coming third in the round robin stages of the tournament the vagaries of the system meant they had to play Stoke Newington again for a place in the semi-final, and then the unbeaten North Middlesex in the final.

BPG captain Abigail Avery inspired the teammates around her in a surprising turnaround that saw her team beat Stoke Newington in the semi-final (SN 29 – 48 BPG) before turning the form book on its head with a 17 run victory in the final vs North Middlesex CC.

There were good individual performances from bowlers Imogen Higgins (equal 1st tournament wicket taker, 4 wickets) and Erin Goodwin (2 wickets). Jessamy Low was a steadying influence in the batting order (2nd highest tournament runs,48 & high score, 21). It may sound like a cliche but they wouldn’t have won if it wasn’t for the team’s performance as a group and the selfless sacrifice of players like Molly Bartlett, Abigail Avery and Paige Goodwin who often batted and bowled against the opposition’s superstars.

Congratulations to the U13 MCA Indoor Champions 2016. Abigial Avery (Capt), Imogen Higgins, Erin Goodwin, Jessamy Low, Paige Goodwin, Ruby Wilkinson, Iris Saunders and Molly Bartlett.